Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice


Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice with a splash of lemon

“Naturally sweetened with a subtle earthiness” As the name says this is just “100% pure beet juice pressed from whole beets (with just a hint of lemon from concentrate)”. Trader Joe’s carries this in the refrigerated drinks section, so it’s fresh, kind of what you might get if you went into one of those fancy juice bars, except this was not made right in front of you by a juice guy throwing beets into a juicer. Still I think this tastes fresh enough that if you put it in a carryout cup and gave it to me and told me it was from a juice bar I would probably have no reason to think otherwise 😉 Though it has a pretty long “good by” date, I think it tastes best within 3-5 days after you open the bottle, so I would drink it in a few days. Personally I would not down the whole thing in one sitting but rather a glass at a time. You get 20 oz for $3.99., which is probably less than a fancy juice bar would charge. I love beets. I like this juice. Healthy and good for you.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s WINTER WAKE UP TEA


So let me just start off with the comment that I really like this tea but frankly found the name a wee bit misleading. When I saw the words “Wake Up Tea”, I just assumed this will make a cup of strong, dark, kick-ass, rocket fuel (English/Irish) tea… A dark cuppa that really wakes you up in the morning. But when I brewed up a cup as you can see in the picture its not a very dark super strong tea. However when I tasted it I thought, oh this quite good! So I really like this tea but my take is kind of Trader Joe’s should have come up with a different name minus “wake up”. “Winter Wake Up Tea” is probably not something I would brew to wake me up in the morning. But other than that comment, Trader Joe’s has come up with an EXCELLENT TEA BLEND with great spice flavors that would satisfy me at any time of day, and makes me feel all nice and warm and cozy!

TJ’s Winter Wake Up Tea is a wonderfully balanced tasty spiced tea, a blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger and cloves. If it was called something a bit different without “wake up” in the name, I would have simply started the review with “A most wonderful spiced tea that will make you feel warm and toasty on a cold snowy winter’s eve, and will warm your heart and soul! Drink it in front of the fireplace and just relax….” Personally Mr. Joe, I would have named it something like, say… WINTER COZY TEA. or WINTER SPICE BLEND TEA* or something like that.

Brew this up and you get a very nice spiced tea that reminds me slightly of CONSTANT COMMENT tea – a famous spiced tea blend created back in 1945. My parents always had it in our cupboard, especially making an appearance when “company” came over, as it was kind of special and would get a “yum… whats this tea?” comment from our guests. Ah the good old days! This TJ tea make a lighter cup than Constant Comment, with less black tea prominent in the blend but probably more spices such as cinnamon, ginger, plus clove and orange peel. It even is has the slightest bit of sweetness naturally as an under-note from a bit of licorice, which possesses natural sweetness.

So will this wake you up like the Irish Breakfast tea which actually is a “wake up tea”? Myself, to wake up I need a strong cuppa like TJ’s excellent Irish Breakfast Tea, or a typical English tea like Typhoo Tea or the like. But still enjoy this Winter Tea for what it is – a quite lovely spiced tea full of flavor.

Aha, methinks, I’ve a great idea! What if I combined the two teas together?! I brewed both teas up together, and very much liked the resulting concoction. If you do you want something a bit darker and stronger but with lots of nice spice flavors, just take 2 cups of water, bring to a boil in a pot, and toss in a bag of this Winter Tea plus a bag of Irish Breakfast Tea. Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. The result is nice mix-up of both, a strong “cuppa” plus lots of warm spices and flavor, not terribly unlike Constant Comment, and which actually now is a Wake Up Tea that will perk you up on a cold winter’s morn.

*So Mr Trader Joe, should you borrow my ideas and rename this product “COZY WINTER TEA” you better at least send me a case of this stuff!

 

 

 

PACIFIC ORGANIC ALMOND MILK


I’ve tried a number of the “milk alternative” beverages at Trader Joe’s. Most of them are pretty good. The one I keep going back to is PACIFIC FOODS ORGANIC ALMOND MILK (“Original”). I think the reason is I find its taste is a tiny bit better due to the fact the almonds its made from are roasted.

The Pacific Foods website says: “We take organic almonds and add a gentle roast to emphasize the robust, authentic flavors of the almonds. The result is our smooth, signature taste that’s a pleasure to drink by the glass and blends perfectly in your dairy-free recipes.”

We all know roasting nuts brings out their flavor, right? This subtle but noticeable taste in this almond beverage makes a small but slightly significant better taste giving this almond beverage a little depth of flavor over the other almond milks TJ carries.

I mostly use Almond Milk in the morning on my cereal. But this is also good to drink on its own (well chilled), mixed with yogurt, which is usually the things I put on my breakfast cereal with some fruit. I use this almond milk to make Smoothies; and its great for those. I actually do drink regular (cow) milk too though. I use regular whole milk in my daily cappuccino. Almond or Soy milk adds a taste that I don’t like in coffee drinks, for my taste or a cup of English tea.

The Pacific Almond Beverage costs a bit than the other nut milk beverages. This sells for $2.19 (1 Qt) compared to for example TJ’s Almond Milk ($1.89). Still this is worth trying and comparing to see what you like best. This version (original) does have a little organic cane sugar in it, but its hardly “sweet” and I think that also makes it tastier. Cow’s milk has naturally produced sugars too you know, just check the label.

The dairy milk industry by the way has been going crazy for the last few years about the word “milk” being used for anything other than the liquid produced by lactating cows. Hence the wording: “plant-based beverage” on the this box! The FDA thinks people get confused seeing the word milk used for anything other than cow milk. I do feel bad for dairy farmer’s, who have seen milk consumption decline way down from say, when I was a kid.

 

NO RECIPE RECIPE: BREAKFAST SOAKED OATS aka OVERNIGHT OATS (No Cooking)

OVER NIGHT OATS ARE A YUMMY AND HEALTHY BREAKFAST!

The night before, put up some rolled oats (or quick oats) in a bowl or container. Pour an equal amount of almond milk over them to cover by a bit and stir to mix. A spoonful of chia seeds are nice too! Let this oatey mix sit and soften up overnight in the fridge. The raw oats will soften up without cooking and become yummy. If you use Quick Oats this can be ready to eat in 15 minutes or so. Dried fruits thrown in will soften and be lovely too (dried cranberries, dates, raisins….) In the morning the mixture will be ready to eat. Top your overnight oaks with your favorite fruits (bananas, berries…) yogurt or kefir and maybe more almond milk if too thick. Some crunchy topping? Granola or a cereal. Nuts. Sweeten with honey or some raw sugar if desired. 

OVERNIGHT OATS WITH NICE PHOTOS

Trader Joe’s KEFIR


kefir1

RAVE

So what’s KEFIR? Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink, kind of like a “drinkable yogurt”.  Kefir is all the rage in the media and natural health community of late. It’s an excellent source of calcium, protein, and most of all, is extremely high in Probiotic bacteria. So it is considered very beneficial for general health, digestion and especially your Gut Health, a huge new topic of interest in the research community.

Kefir’s origins are from the mountainous regions that divide Asia and Europe. Kefir like yogurt is made from fermenting milk. It’s similar but unique and different from yogurt. Kefir is a more powerful probiotic than yogurt as it has way more kinds of probiotic bacteria. Probiotics as you know are very important for your digestive system and overall health, and your gut health. If you look at the label on TJ’s with a list of all the active bacteria cultures, and you will notice there are a lot more cultures listed (12) than are usually seen in yogurt, usually 3-5. I recognize the first three L.  (L. stands for Lactobacillus) bacteria listed but I don’t recognize most of the other bacteria listed off the top of my head. The bottle says it contains 12 active (live) cultures. So there’s more kinds of diverse bacteria in kefir than in yogurt, more diverse probiotics going into your gut. Kefir is also supposed to be better tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant. I’m not lactose intolerant so I can’t say.

I wanted to try Kefir for a while so bought the bottle of Mango flavor I saw at TJs to try. Review? Taste-wise I found the Whole Milk KEFIR to be really quite tasty. This Mango version’s been sweetened (with natural cane sugar) as plain kefir I hear is pretty sour on its own. But I found the mango is not too sweet, you still get that tangy sourness a tiny bit. They also carry a Strawberry* flavor one which I would buy next time as I would like to try that flavor also. (UPDATE: I bought the Strawberry and it was also good) Normally Kefir is supposedly pretty sour and tart. If you didn’t grow up drinking “straight” pure Kefir, I am told it might take you some getting used to? The whole milk kefir drink was pretty thick, almost a smoothie. In fact, one could probably use this in Smoothies, I bet it would be great. (Update: I tried it making smoothies. Excellent for them!)

KEFIR SMOOTHIE RECIPE: In a blender, try 1 cup Kefir, 1 cup of ice, onebanana (could be frozen), a 1/2 cup of some fresh or frozen berries, tablespoon of chia seeds and/or flax seeds and a drizzle of honey ?

I’ve been using the kefir also pouring some over my morning bowl of oatmeal or cereal. Or over some fruit. Its seriously yummy. Even kids might like the Mango and Strawberry versions. So kefir is both super healthy and super tasty. A 32 oz bottle sells for about $3. If you like yogurt, this is something well worth trying. There is also a Plain Kefir (unsweetened) if you are inclined to try it “au natural” (very tart I hear). TJ’s even sells one made from Goat’s Milk (!) The Mango one is rich it’s made with whole milk. I would not drink this a full glass at a time, I take a small glass of it as a little will go a long way.

Drink a few ounces at first only, till your body gets used to all that extra probiotic healthy bacteria! Lest it work “too well”… If you know what I mean!

UPDATE: I bought the Strawberry* Kefir and realized that it says LOW FAT milk. The MANGO KEFIR says with WHOLE MILK. Whole milk is 4%. Low fat milk is 1-2%. So go for the strawberry if you want lower fat/calories.

Nutrition (per 1 cup):  200 Cal. and  4.5 g of sat. fat for the MANGO Whole Milk Kefir. VS 160 Cal. and 1.5 g sat. fat for STRAWBERRY Low Fat Kefir which interestingly also seems to have 1 more gram of Protein per cup serving? Plain Kefir=100 cals (1 cup) So if you want to save some calories get the STRAWBERRY Low Fat Kefir or PLAIN Low Fat Kefir (though the Mango was very tasty!) Honestly, I can’t see anyone drinking it a whole cup at a time straight though of any variety straight, this is a small glass thing, or mix with some ice and a dash of water….

Has anyone tried Plain Kefir version ? Is it really sour or tart? Let us know in the comments.

And if you are so inclined try out the Goat Milk Kefir and please report in the Comments section as well. I am curious about that one, too.

(update fall 2019: many bottles later. The whole milk mango kefir is def. not quite as thick as when I first tried it and reviewed it. They’ve changed it and now make it a bit thinner. I have found this product change again and again on some TJ products.. I think they get customer feedback and make change to the products based on the customer feedback. My gut feeling (get it?) tells me people may have complained it was too thick. Other readers have also stated what I’ve found that it’s not as thick as it used to be.)

Is it worth buying? Definitely! Try it. Your personal biome may thank you (but go slow at first, lest it do its magic too much!)

kefir3

kefir2

Strawberry Low Fat Kefirlofatkefir

Trader Joe’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA


 

 

 

If you enjoy a nice “cuppa” like I do, you’ll likely enjoy TJ’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA.

Trader Joe’s ORIGINAL IRISH BREAKFAST TEA BAGS is a newer incarnation of a previous version of Irish Tea they carried, then “revamped” a few years back. That previous Irish Tea packaging looked a bit different and tasted different too, according to the internet’s tea aficianados. This new version is an improved, better version, also according to them. Its has more flavor and is a stronger blend, which is what you definitely want in a cup of “Irish Tea” as Irish tea should be strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar, the way most people probably drink it there, as well as in the UK. And the way I takes me tea, as well!

TJ’s gave the box a new design too,  and the tea which was in a square bag, now comes in a round bag (tables with no string). Inside the box are 2 foil-wrapped packages with 40 tea bags each, which is great way to sell tea as the foil wrapper keeps 1/2 the tea totally fresh and airtight until you need to open the second package. When you rip open the foil pack you will smell the tea easily, its got a very nice earthy (boggy?) deep tea aroma. To me this is what good tea should smell like. I won’t be a snob and say no one should use a tea bag, let’s face it they are mighty convienient (yes on occasion, I will make a pot with loose tea).

According to the info on the box, TJ’s IRISH BREAKFAST tea comes from 5 countries: India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malawi, and Kenya. A box is 80 teabags has a Net Wt. of 8 ounces which basically means each tea bag contains a nice decent amount of tea, enough to make a strong “cuppa”. When you see cheap tea that has 100 tea bags and says “6 oz” you already know that means there’s simply not enough tea in each bag to make a strong cup of tea. Lipton comes as 8 oz of tea in 100 bags, so obviously each has less tea and won’t brew up as strong as this stuff. This is a black tea and properly steeped (4-5 minutes) the tea gives you a nice very strong, dark “cuppa” with a deep reddish color. It is strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar, or not, as you like! The box with 80 tea bags sells for $2.99 (or $6/lb) which is a good deal even compared to TJ’s ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA (which comes in a box of 48 bags for $2.99)

As the box says, “The Irish love their tea”. Some of us Yanks do too and we can easily enjoy this brand of tea easily and affordably from TJ’s to make our daily “cuppa”.

RAVE

new irish tea
FALL 2020 update – Note that the Irish Tea package has changed again. This is what it now looks like (blue sky, green grass, bicycle drawing). They also changed from foil packs inside (lovely) to plastic wrapped packs (meh!). Most people, as well as yours truly preferred the foil packs for freshness. Oh well. Some report the tea’s blend changed. At least still 8 oz with 80 teabags. For comparison Whole Foods sells their Black Tea in a package of which is 70 teabags with a listed weight of 4.9 oz. Wow, thats a lot less tea for your money! So at least TJ has kept the amount of tea the same, and gives you more tea, which of course makes for a stronger cup.